I took too many photos to post here, so please go see more if you're interested!
April 9, 2011
After a wonderful night at the opera, I woke up bright and early for my first full sightseeing day in Vienna. I fortified myself with delicious Hotel Alexander breakfast, packed Berlin Bag (my trusty travel companion since my first trip to Germany) with my guidebook and camera, and trekked up to the Spittelau U-Bahn stop.
I enjoyed a relaxing twenty or so minute train ride down to the Schönbrunn Palace, a beautiful former residence of the Habsburgs, Emperors of a Whole Lot.
A hilarious contrast was the Östermarkt (Easter market) in front of the beautiful Baroque palace:
Before exploring the extensive palace grounds, I shopped around the market. One could buy an Absinthbowle...?
And most ubiquitously, delicately hand-painted eggshells:
The palace grounds were completely free. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so I opted to not pay for the inside tour and instead just enjoy the gardens.
Behind the palace were acres of gardens, mazes, and walkways. The Great Parterre was lined with mythological statues made between 1750-1775.
Across the Great Parterre from the Palace was the Gloriette, up on the hill:
I trekked across the gravel to the Neptune fountain...
...where I surreptitiously and shamelessly took many pictures of runners. There were runners EVERYWHERE. Deep in the depths of my shin-related hiatus, I was jealous. But they rocked.
Schönbrunn is home to the world's oldest zoo, founded in 1752.
(See another runner?!)
Up up up I climbed to the Gloriette:
From which you can see amazing views of Vienna:
I paused in my journey to have an Eiskaffee (coffee with ice cream in it) in the Gloriette Cafe. The waiter was just a touch on the snooty side and I felt awkward photographing my drink. So I didn't. I regret that now.
Next, it was to the woods!
I met an adorable squirrel with AWESOME ears:
I stumbled across the Obelisk fountain, built in 1777. The hieroglyphs on the obelisk supposedly tell the history of the Habsburg dynasty, however, hieroglyphs were not in fact deciphered until 1822. Soooo whatever. Looks cool?
Finally tiring of the beautiful park ("Schönbrunn", by the way, means "beautiful fountain"), I hopped back on the U-Bahn and headed to the Naschmarkt.
This wonderful open-air market has many permanent stands selling fruits, vegetables, coffee, Döner kebab, scarves, candy, bread, fish, chocolate...and a huge flea market with anything you've ever wanted to find used and cheap! My prize find: a beautiful pair of opera glasses. (The day after I saw the opera. By this time, though, I had purchased a ticket to Carmen in Prague, so I knew I'd use them.) They are pink and silver, (as the somewhat sketchy saleslady claimed) antique, and work just fine. I took pictures at the opera house in Prague, so you'll see them soon.
I walked a bit over to the Hofburg Palace (another Habsburg residence), stopping first in the Burggarten to say hello to Mozart:
And then on to the palace:
I sat a spell in the Volksgarten on the other side and then said hello to Parliament:
Exhausted, I caught the D-Tram back to my hotel for a good nap. Yes.
Refreshed, I D-Trammed back down to die Innere Stadt for dinner and a performance of Bach's Johannespassion at Stephansdom. And photos.
I made the mistake of eating dinner outside. The wind was biting cold. I froze. So immediately after finishing, I found a warm cafe and ate a slice of famous Sachertorte (with a side of heavy whipped cream) VERY slowly.
It was REALLY good.
I ate ALL of the whipped cream, too.
I perused some shops to kill more time before the concert:
Heh heh heh.
And then, it was time to go inside.
I bought the cheap tickets (of course), and so sat in the left aisle, directly to the left of the choir. I mean if I turned my head 90 degrees to my right, I could stare at the choir's profiles. The orchestra was to my right way behind me. The acoustics were...unique. ;)
My seat block:
My view of the choir's chairs, and the interesting contrast of Old Cathedral and New Technology:
Cathedrals are COLD. I shivered the whole time.
Applauding the conductor:
Despite the temperature and the unique acoustics, it was a fabulous experience to cap my very full Viennese day!